Monday, 18 May 2009

The Final Countdown!

We’re on our way home at last! It’s been fantastic, but now we’re really looking forward to getting back to family life! Now that we’re back at the airport in Amman, it’s time for a little interview:

Simon: So, Jon, what are your most powerful impressions of India?
Jon: I was particularly impressed with the architecture in Mumbai as it was like stepping back a few years in London, but the more basic slums were amazing because millions of people had built their own houses from whatever materials they could find and did great jobs, actually. Jaisalmer was probably the best part of India with the sandstone fort in which we stayed and the havelis of course. Makhania lassi was plentiful and I wouldn’t mind going back for a couple, but it was the winding streets that really did it for me.
The Taj Mahal was greater than every expectation that I had. It was a huge learning curve as I never knew that the Q’ran was inscribed into the smooth marble of the monument, but I also learned that the four minarets on each corner of the Taj are designed to fall away from the centrepiece in the event of natural disasters i.e. earthquakes.
Varanasi was a unique experience; being able to see burning bodies on the ghats and floating our prayer candles in the Ganges, whilst on a small wooden boat was not to be missed.
The Indian people were not how I’d expected them to be. I had created this stereotypical vision in my head that they were all very warm and friendly. A few are. But I found that a lot of them tried to do us out of money and are very aggressive in queues and when driving. There were some very nice Indians too though, of course.
Simon: Yes, of course. And do you remember our first trip on the Indian Railways? Wasn’t that amazing?
Jon: Yep! Really cool to meet that Indian family who gave us free food, which was delicious by the way. I am really amazed at how easy the long journeys were. I found it really easy to sleep generally and it was quite comfortable. And the breeze coming in through the windows was a real treat in that scorching Indian heat!!!
Simon: How about Bangladesh, did that live up to the way you had imagined it?
Jon: I hadn’t really thought a lot about Bangladesh before. It was a place that I never thought I’d see. In certain ways, it was better than I had imagined. For a start the language is beautiful and the spoken basics are easy to pick up. The people are extremely friendly and the countryside is beautiful, but I was shocked at the state of Dhaka and the abundance of people who are in distress, fighting constantly for survival below the poverty line. Cox’s Bazar beach was amazing and I thought it seemed strange that the palm trees we’ve seen in places like Goa have been replaced by evergreens. Up in Srimangal, the cycling around the Lowacharra Forest and the tea plantations was really awesome, and I must admit that I have never tried a cup of six-layer tea before. The friends we made, Russel and Michael, were really great and I hope that we all remain in touch and that Michael in particular fulfils his dream of making it to England one day. The big downside of Bangladesh is that we ate the same food for two weeks solid due to the little variation in dishes. Daal Fry? Never again!!! (Barfs).
Simon: The way we went to Nepal quite spontaneously, that was a superb way of doing it. What struck you most about the place?
Jon: Our experience on Nagarkot was very striking and memorable. Ascending from a baking hot environment down in the large and dusty city of Kathmandu and getting caught in a wind/rain/hail storm up in the higher reaches. It was a moment that I will never forget. And the mountain bikes we hired that day were awesome and we certainly picked up speed, weaving in and out of busy Kathmandu traffic!
Lets not forget the Last Resort though, where I did my first bungee jump! Will it be my last? The surrounding Himalayan landscape there was spectacular too and I am itching to return for more trekking!
Simon: Did Delhi manage to live up to the expectations of a world-class capital city?
Jon: Where we were, not really. It was nice enough but, where our hotel was, the ground was bumpy just like we saw in poorer parts of India like Bihar. In our locality there was not much going on either, except for the amazing gym we went to and a couple of great restaurants. Maybe they put all the real cool things in old Delhi? The folklore dance show we went to was absolutely amazing though, and it was exactly what I wanted to see whilst in India!
Simon: Our chance trip into Israel, even though it was only a few days long, what did you feel about our visit to Jerusalem?
Jon: That was the best decision we ever made! On the King Hussein Bridge border crossing, it was nice to see other like-minded travellers too. I confess that I developed severe Delhi belly-ness during our time in Jerusalem, but I battled it out and I am glad because I have now been to the holiest place on the planet. I would have been really gutted if the pains had kept me in bed. It was great walking the Via Dolorosa and imagining what it was like at the time Jesus walked it, before Old Jerusalem was even built. But on the Jewish spectrum, it was great to see the Wailing Wall as I had only ever heard about it in a religious education lesson when I was at school… I never thought that I’d actually be going! And finally, the narrow and cobbled streets of Jerusalem were great just to aimlessly walk around on and get lost in.
Simon: And finally Jordan: In a single word, what’s it like spending time in an Arab country?
Jon: Sorry Simon, but one word just doesn’t do any justice! It was different to any experience I have ever had and perhaps it was the best idea coming to the Middle East on the way home! Good call!
Simon: So if you had to choose two things, one natural and the other manmade as the best aspects of our trip, what would they be?
Jon: It’s a close call between the Taj Mahal and the Lost City of Petra, though Petra wins!!! It is the most marvellous wonder I have seen on our trip! In terms of the natural phenomenons, that thunderstorm in Bangladesh was really great to walk around in! Otherwise, probably coming tops are the natural dunes of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan!
Simon: Eek, our plane is about to go! Cheers Jon, thanks very much!


  1. I am so pleased that you didn,t sign off with the end as I am hoping there will be another chapter in the lives of the intrepid travellers.xx

  2. Oh yes, this is only the first chapter: there's a whole lotta big wide world out there! I'm already missing the daily blog routine; it really focuses the mind on everything we experienced. Maybe we should do a blog of our preparations for the next trip! But it might mean learning Spanish rather than Portuguese so I'm already confused...